Then came the dawn and you were gone – 31st July 2020

Too much to dream last night – Electric Prunes. Cannot remember dream now but I do know I didn’t sleep long enough. Woke up knowing I need to try a bit harder today (in my thinking) – be positive, stay positive – say positive.

Gratitude Journal

I am so happy and grateful that I forgot my passport and that I had to go to immigration this morning. It meant some extra running around but also meant I got to try a new coffee shop which has great coffee. It was delicious.

I like to relax on my bed of nails, that’s one thing that almost never fails – 29th July 2020

Nothing stays the same, though we always try and force it. Is this the start of the pandemic era as some people are predicting? What is the ‘new normal’ and is it really any different to before?

I feel very lucky. After leaving the UK in 1994 my life, on reflection, has been a lucky and happy rollercoaster ride. Even the bottoms of the ride felt survivable, perhaps because at least there wasn’t a cold grey rain spitting in my face. Perhaps there were occasions where it didn’t feel survivable at that moment, but luckily I did, and so I have the possibility to reflect.

My journey is my own and my pronouncements can only be based on that experience, my judgements for myself, so take them with a pinch of salt. I did bad things, good things, stupid things, smart things. I see others doing the same. Who am I to judge?

I have definitely changed over the last 6 months and I’m not sure why. Or I should say, I’m not sure specifically why. I have implemented lots of minor habit changes and behaviour modifications and perhaps it is an accumulation of minor positive changes that have made the difference. So I can’t put it down to meditating, exercising or journalling specifically.

I decided to get up 45 minutes earlier than I need to in order to get to work. In that time I follow a flexible routine. I keep it flexible because I shouldn’t punish myself for not following it consistently.

First I use my exercise bands to help open up my shoulders and stretch my calves. Probably only a couple of minutes total. Next, I spend 5 to 10 minutes doing tests on my language apps (Drops and Mondly) – the aim is to break my current daily streak, learn some new words, possibly remember those words and reinforce this habit. The idea behind this is to create a sense of achievement as soon as possible in the morning and this sets you up for the rest of the day.

Next, I lay on the floor and stretch out my back, neck and hamstrings. A warm-up stretch more than anything, no more than a couple of minutes again. Just brushing off the tightness left over from sleep.

Then I use an app called Home Workout and all I do is the 5-minute morning warm-up exercise, 10 exercises to get your body moving and your heart rate raised just slightly. I may move onto harder exercise routines later but I’m not in any hurry. I follow this with 30 squats and 20 tip-toe stretches (I have real problems with my feet).

If there is time, I write some ‘morning pages’ – whatever thoughts are piling through my head, though I’ve found that usually I don’t write much because I am sitting ‘trying’ to think of things to write. I often try to recall my dreams at this point. Whatever, it’s not a journal, it’s barely legible, it’s spat out quickly and forgotten – not really meant to be read again in the future. This habit is 2-5 minutes max.

Finally, I’ll meditate (this is when my brain suddenly starts coming up with the random thoughts!). I use the Smiling Mind app which has plenty of free meditations and I don’t know if I often get into a real meditative state but I want to do it just for practice. Doing it over and over again puts smaller chunks of information into my brain that I can utilise during the day, when not meditating as such. In this way, it is a success. Perhaps it has taught me to just pause sometimes before opening my mouth. Taking a deep breath before heading into a difficult class.

I usually meditate between 5 and 10 minutes and mostly they are guided meditations. Once there gets to be longer periods of silence I still struggle with keeping focus on breath or letting go of thoughts, but that’s the reason to practice, right? I also have been laying on a spiky massage mat whilst doing this and that has been great. Much like a bed of nails. It makes me wonder why I like it? Do I like discomfort, do I find comfort in pain? Do I feel some sense of achievement to be able to survive it? I don’t know if there is any scientific study around physiological benefits of this type of thing but I just know that I like it!

Finally, a shower and breakfast and it’s off to work. Following this routine 5 days a week seems to be having a positive effect on my happiness and calm. I wouldn’t put it down to any one of the habits specifically or even them all together. Sometimes it can just be the action, the doing, that provides the benefit. For years I’ve implored friends to just ‘Do Something’ usually for a larger cause. Now I’m starting to understand that whilst I was doing something for a larger cause it also had the side effect of benefitting myself.

I was going to write about how the Covid-19 virus has affected my life teaching at school and what the ‘new normal’ of that looks like. Fortunately for me, it has meant lots of free time, drinking coffee in the morning, sitting by the river. This situation won’t last forever. I won’t last forever. I enjoy it whilst I can.

Gratitude Journal

I am so happy and grateful for my energy and enthusiasm. When Dylan called in sick today I was ready to go teach for him.

The Chiang Rai Alternative Memorial for Tim Smith – 25th July 2020

Crave fun, brave sun, he keeps the world as his disguise
Slave hung, brave sun, the leader of the starry skies
From the tops of the trees
To the bowels of the Earth
Swings from pillar to post
‘Cos he’s here
And now
And now
He’s here

24 Cardiacs tracks randomly selected by iTunes, in memory of the genius of Dr Tim Smith, The Leader of the Starry Skies.

….never mind the war, take me home again
For the last time

Gratitude Journal

I am so happy and grateful to have some energy this morning to ride my bike to get coffee. Great little exercise for me.

How do you hide from something you have found? – 24th July 2020

Thinking how much better I feel mentally and a little bit physically. My body hurts in so many places but if I do my five-minute exercise every day I can feel it is making me feel better. I spent too many years ignoring my health and it’s hard to catch up but I’ll keep on.

Dreams – no recall. Today – last day of week with four days off.

Gratitude Journal

I am so happy and grateful for the big breakfast I had this morning. Not sure I need to eat again today!

Too much is not enough – 23rd July 2020

Oh No! Bruno! – brainbox. Dream? I’m not sure but I am tired this morning – did not want to wake up. Exercised (five minutes) feel good. Mozzie heaven in my room in the morning.

Read back into my past – what was I thinking? Some days good, some days bad. Tim Smith passed away – only 59. Seven years older than me. I want to live longer. Especially now I am happy.

Gratitude Journal

I am so happy and grateful for my glasses. I feel really disoriented without them. I love being able to see properly.

I glanced back on my life – 22nd July 2020

Last night as I was going to sleep I remembered more of the dream that I had yesterday night. We – not sure who – were in some kind of outdoor festival/playground and I was scared to go headfirst down a cardboard tube in the ground. I don’t recall last night’s dream at all. Quick one today – want to meditate.

23rd Sep 2022 – Perhaps I had recently been remembering the time when I was six or seven and wouldn’t get on an escalator with my mum at a London Tube station. Escalators were truly scary for a little boy who had no idea what it was or how it worked and despite mum’s assurances that it was fine, I stood at the top crying my eyes out as she disappeared downwards. A very nice man walked me down the stairs to reunite with her a minute later. Such trauma!

Gratitude Journal

I am so happy and grateful for the foot inserts I can wear to try and make my feet feel better.